Blades of Steel was released by videogaming masterminds Konami to arcades in 1987, with a NES console release following a year later. (EU had to wait a couple more years -MAN it must have sucked to live there!!! No wonder no one bought Nintendo systems in Europe!)
Your typical 5-on-5 sports affair, this game was following up on the popularity of Konami's successful Double Dwibble, er, Dribble franchise - basically a very similar game tweaked to play hockey rather than B-ball.
Back in these days, sports games were not particularly concerned with mimicking the stats of players or even using real-life teams -everything was fictional, and the concentration was on simple player-on-player arcade action - and it worked! These games were excellent, being from Konami you knew you were in for a smooth experience with fast play, nice graphics and good sound FX. All this stuff usually added up to a very enjoyable Saturday afternoon, of trying to kill your buddy..
Konami liked to put little touches in their games, Blades of Steel was no different. They actually had a very simple little fighting minigame, it was cute but satisfying - if you LOSE the fight you get put into the penalty box! Classic!
They even worked a few little intermissions into the game, one being a mock boss fight Gradius-style - when I saw this, as a kid, I nearly lost my mind! You'd not think much of such a thing these days, but back in the day crossovers/nods like this were highly unlikely and seemed like too much of a pain in the butt (to implement into a game) to be worth it t, still they went there and it was good for a laugh. No, stuff like this did not necessarily make Blades a wonderful hockey game, but it sort of heightened the overall experience - you got the sense you were playing something that the developer enjoyed putting together, rather than something they were just trying to poop out and make money.
In summation, all these years later a sports game like this is a dinosaur compared to how far the genre has come - but it's a fun little action-packed arcade title, one which still shows off a nice level of polish.